Monday, August 24, 2020

The Bethany Bullet Sermon Message - Week of August 23, 2020




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I grew up in a bespectacled family.  My father started wearing glasses when he was quite young.  My mother did the same.  My sister got her first pair when she was in the 5th grade and my brother got his when he was 7 years old, and then there was me.  I desperately wanted to fit in with my family. I was the only one not wearing glasses and it felt strange.  I vividly remember sitting in class and forcing my eyes to blur in the hopes that they would stay that way and I could get glasses.  I was jealous. 

Eventually, in my mid 20s I was having a hard time seeing the puck when I watched the Kings on TV so, instead of going to the optometrist, I just started sitting closer to the screen.  When I would be in the car, I struggled to see the street signs so, instead of making an appointment to get my eyes checked, I asked Jill to read the street signs for me; it was no longer jealousy that motivated me, but apathy.    

Finally, I gave in and got a pair of glasses and once I had them, I thought everyone was staring at me.  My view on glasses had changed drastically over the years.  It went from jealousy, to apathy, to only about me.  My view was distorted.  

For the past few months we have been taking a look at Paul’s letter to the Romans.   This letter is filled with the wonderful truth of salvation in Jesus Christ.  For the past 11 chapters Paul has been laying out his case for belief in Jesus.  

In chapter after chapter Paul lays the foundation of faith.  We have heard that all people are sinful, that Christ died to forgive sin, that we are made right with God through faith, and that this begins a new life with a new relationship with God and there is no one for whom Christ has not died and whom God does not love.  After Paul has laid out this foundation, he gives praise and honor to God.  From Romans 11 starting at verse 33:

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!  "For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?" "Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?"  For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

It would be a tempting place to stop.  It would be a nice place to end the letter, but Paul sees something more, he knows the sinful condition and what distorts us from seeing what God has planned next. As we continue on in our reading for today, as we move on to chapter 12 Paul makes a transition.  Paul gives us a new vision, a new way of seeing life. 

Often times we like to use our own lenses to see what comes next.  Not unlike my experience with wearing glasses we like to put our own lenses as we move forward.  

What lenses do you put on?  

Is it the lens of jealousy?  Do your actions seek to find gain because of what others have and you don’t?  Do you find it hard to see the stuff that others accumulate while you struggle to make ends meet? 

Perhaps it’s the lens of apathy.  Does your inaction cause issues in your relationships?  Do you find it hard to engage in the activities you know are right?  Is it perhaps that you would rather do what you know down deep is wrong? 

For you, it might be the lens of “only me”.  This lens elevates your thoughts and views and beliefs above those of others.  Your ideas you would like prefer to be community standards, your opinions would be shared by all.  

If it’s not one of these distortions, I’m sure there is something that keeps you from keeping God’s mercy in view. 

From Romans chapter 12 Paul writes:

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” 

The NIV translation of Romans 12:1 uses the phrase “In view of God’s mercy” as the basis for his appeal for action.  It is interesting to note that the word for mercy is plural.  We are not talking about one thing but the entire body of the letter to this point.  

What Paul has laid out is a listing of the mercies of God fulfilled in Christ, and he now asks us to use the lens of that mercy to see what comes next.  And what comes next as we have God’s mercy in view? 

·         We are to offer bodily dedication

·         We are to avoid worldly contamination

·         We experience Godly transformation

First of all a bodily dedication; Paul says to present our bodies as living sacrifices holy and acceptable to God.  This is worship talk.  

In the Old Testament, animal sacrifice was the center of worship life.  The temple in Jerusalem was where sacrifice was made and forgiveness gained.  Old Testament sacrifices surrounded the death of a substitute so that mercy could be given through the blood of the sacrifice.  When Jesus took on flesh and walked the earth he became the ultimate sacrifice as he went to the cross, shed his own blood and died a horrible death so that all could experience the mercy of God.  Because of Jesus we are all made holy and forgiven. Now we are asked to be a sacrifice.  But this is a bit different.  Because of Christ, we offer living sacrifices in our daily lives.  As the priests in the Old Testament offered sacrifice, as our High Priest Jesus offered his own body as a sacrifice, we too as a royal priesthood redeemed by God now can offer our own bodies as living sacrifices.  

Second, we need to avoid worldly contamination.  This world, this age, is filled with sin.  Sin is what separates us from God it brings about death, it springs to life at opportune moments, and it is a reality for every human being. Worldly contamination obscures the lenses of God’s mercy and leads to jealousy, apathy and it only being about me.   

Third, because of Christ we experience Godly transformation.  

As Paul urges the Romans to be transformed we could also translate it as “keep on being transformed”.  It is a continual process that we find ourselves in because of the reality of sin in this world.  Paul uses the Greek word metamorphosis to describe this transformation.  A metamorphosis is a complete change from the inside out.  It is the same word both Matthew and Mark use to describe our Lord on the mountain of transfiguration.  When Jesus was transfigured, transformed, metamorphosized, as Mark describes it: His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them.  Or as Matthew writes: His face shone like the sun and his clothes became as white as the light. 

When we look for the transformation that comes, we can only look to one place, in fact one person, Jesus Christ!  Jesus, who transformed himself in humility as he came to earth, performed the greatest transformation of all.  He willingly gave up his life, was beaten and crucified so that you might be transformed. When he rose again, he transformed your trajectory, changed your view, he fixed your eyes and he gave us all the lens of mercy which takes away all jealousy, apathy and things that are only about me. As Paul told the Corinthians: If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Cor. 5:17)  Only with God’s mercy in view can we:

·         Offer a bodily dedication

·         Avoid worldly contamination

·         And experience Godly transformation

As we close today, allow me to give you a few things to ponder and to deal with in view of God’s mercy. 

First, I’d like you to ponder the ideas, thoughts, or preconceived notions that you carry that become the lens through which you view the world and that can contaminate your view.  What things get in the way from keeping God’s mercy in view?  Make a list and then in repentance, come before God and ask for him to change your view, to see His mercy. 

Second, we know that God’s mercy is always before us, but how can you offer a bodily dedication that brings the mercy of God in view for your neighbor? 

And lastly, I’d like you try the following.  As you go about your week, ask yourself the following question before you respond to a text or email, before you have a meeting with your boss or sit your kids down for a chat, “Is God’s mercy in view?”  It just might change how you respond. 

A few things to ponder and to deal with this week.

- Pastor Seth Moorman



Worship Resources for Sunday, August 30th will be up on

Bethany’s website by midday Saturday, August 29th!



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